About cityhippyfarmgirl

simple connected living, city style

For the love of a good book

With school school holidays round these parts recently, while I’d like to say I ripped through a couple of books in two short weeks, I, err, didn’t. However I have puttered through a handful of them since the start of the year and am always open to other suggestions, (even if it takes awhile to get to them.)

The last weeks I haven’t even bothered opening a book because The Handmaids Tale happened. Have you watched it? Did you blitz through it in a haze of tightened stomachs, and firmly held breath? Of course you did, that’s how everyone seems to have been watching it. If you haven’t I highly recommend hot footing to your local streaming service and get viewing. I. can. not. recommend. it. enough.

But for now, it’s back to the books.

On the ever-increasing wobbly tower of must have books by the bed side table…

The Summer Book- Tove Janssen

Lombardia

Speaking Out- Tara Moss

Truly Madly Guilty- Liane Moriarty

Humans of New York- Brandon Stanton

First we make the Beast Beautiful- Sarah Wilson

How not to Die- Michael Greger

Womankind Magazine

Earth Garden Magazine

…and of course a few a others

 

Any suggestions? What else should be added to that pile?

What are you reading at the moment?

 

Damn straight your coffee makes a difference

So you plan your coffee drinking, you take your reusable cup everywhere just in case, (and you obviously drink organic fairtrade locally roasted beans.) Now if by chance you do forget to bring that when the caffeine call goes out? Well, you decide to sit down and drink it, or simply do with out.

Which is all rather excellent. But what next? How can we go that step further in reducing the 1 billion coffee cups that Australia goes through each year?

Talking with a friend recently who held a chai market stall, and was offering a discount if you brought your own cup. Not one person did throughout the day. Which is pretty disappointing really. Speaking again with another friend, I was appalled to hear that in recent times she had been charged extra to get her take away coffee, in her own cup.

There’s obviously still a fair amount of misunderstanding and opportunity for education still to take place.

Which is where you, the humble consumer gets to step in. While your individual coffee habit is clean as whistle, there are still multiple opportunities to step and lead the community. The ABC’s War on Waste is still a talking point for many people, so it’s created the perfect vehicle for conversation, and if you didn’t happen to see it, or know of the program at all, well, all problems highlighted on the show are going to be relevant for some time, so jump on in.

But how?

Start by hitting up your local community.

Here in Australia we have a great website called Responsible Cafes. Simply type in your address and it will show all the cafes around you that give a discount on your take away coffee if you bring your own cup.

To me this illustrates a few things. One, you are spending your important dollar on a business that is making a conscious decision in making an effort (albeit a small one.) Two, there’s a dramatic reduction in needless landfill, and three, hey, you get a discount.

If you find there are cafes in your area that aren’t listed, why not start that wonderful conversation at your local.

Ask if it’s possible. Generally cafe owners will respond to customers demands, if enough people ask for bowls of green diana-berry smoothies. Well they are going to fill that demand.

Same goes for those takeaway coffee cups. The way you drink it makes a difference. What it comes in makes a difference, and those conversations that you start?

They make a huge difference.

 

Helpful Links 

Responsible Cafes

War on Waste

Fixing your coffee Habit

 

 

 

Loving…sea mist, weeds and odd hats

Loving…A rolling sea mist at sunrise, that brings a full heart feeling that’s hard to describe. Quiet squeals of delight in the cold, but also at the sheer beauty of it all.

Loving…People speaking passionately about things they care about. That kind of care on subjects close to the heart, it’s inspiring.

Loving…Radishes straight from the ground, destined for fermenting. Because, really you can never have too much fermented goodness surely?

Loving…Second hand finds that have been on ‘the list.’ Oh let the odd hatted play begin. (Surely you can never be too old for dressing up? Never.)

Loving…Hot tea and weeds. In the quiet of the morning, when small needing people, are not needing in that hour. Quiet, methodical work begins. Bugger meditation on a mat, this is how I still my mind.

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[“Often life’s pleasures pass us by simply because we don’t take a moment to focus on them… Make a point of noticing everyday something that uplifts your spirit or tickles your heart… Stop to breathe in the joy of this moment and then tell someone about it. Share your joy and revel in it. When your joy is savoured, and then shared, it is magnified…” ROBIN GRILLE]

Must have gut lovin’ goodness list

We are looking at take two of the ‘viral beast’ coming for a visit round these parts. It’s not an exciting visit, and to be honest I’m a bit miffed that the beast is back so quickly after the last time. Seriously the first round of coughs hadn’t even subsided properly.

However, it is what it is. Long naps, slow days, spluttery nights and afternoon sun snuggles…lock ’em in.

One afternoon when a run for provisions was needed I found myself in a chemist running through the symptoms with a sympathetic ear. A range of suggestions was given, including what I can only describe as a lengthy upsell. Which was all met with a no, I’ll just take the initial product please.

In a last ditch attempt, the sympathetic ear/ upseller went in to a long monologue about how probiotics are really important, encouraging good bacteria in our gut, and in turn ensuring a balanced immune system. I nodded, agreeing. Yes we have a lot of fermented food in our home for that very reason, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, sourdough etc etc. Intially she looked at me blankly, then followed that up with a raised eyebrow that said, sure continue on with your fluffy hippy woo woo stuff lady. When you are ready for the proper stuff come back to the chemist.

(She might be waiting awhile.)

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Must have gut lovin’ goodness list in times like this?

Sourdough– make your own, or buy someone else’s. The basis of every easy meal at the moment.

Sauerkraut– make a big batch and always have it at the back of the fridge. This stuff goes with everything.

Kimchi- this is being eaten twice a day, every day and I credit my not being invited to round two of the ‘viral beast’ because of it’s garlicky, chilli infused fermented goodness. Possibly a placebo effect, but hey, it remains a damn tasty one.

Kombucha– every day goodness, yes please.

Fire Cider– knocked back with an enthusiasm unmatched since shooters in the late 90’s.

Beetroot Kvass– It’s certainly beety, and also up there with one of the easiest to try your hand at if you are new to fermenting.

Ginger Beer-  This stuff will put hairs on your chest.

Winter solstice

Winter solstice sunrise swim.

An early morning, when you question your sanity briefly, while taking off your two jackets, looped woollen scarf and gloves.

To submerge your exposed white body in water that threatens to take your entire breath away.

Hold tight you got this one.

Exhale and in.

(And of course it was worth it. Every. Single. Time.)

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For the fellow sea lovers out there. Take a peek at this truly beautiful little film. Divine.

 

Lemony Goodness

Tarty lemon cordial.

Soft eating lemon and olive oil cupcakes.

Lemon zest over mexican rice.

Marmalade with chunks of lemon in it to slap onto still warm sourdough.

Lemon in a green ginger wine hot toddy.

Possibilities are pretty much endless for the humble lemon. On a week where our family’s health has taken a smashing, it’s all about the lemons.

I hear there are healing properties in Lemon and Olive Oil Cupcakes…surely.

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What’s your go to lemony goodness?

Thoughts of raindrops falling

There’s a quiet peacefulness to your waking

Rhythmic raindrops create a steady beat on the roof.

It’s dark outside, with hints of grey. Just enough to show the puddles pooling in a long since saturated ground.

Thoughts dance briefly over the seedlings you planted three days ago, wondering at their willingness to grow through soggy adversity.

You scrunch your eyes tight to the predictable incoming thought parade.

The mental list of to do’s can surely wait. Just now, here in the early morning grey, this is dedicated gentle think time. Just like the raindrops that continue to fall outside, so to will the thoughts. Speeding up as the day cracks open.

But not yet, not now. It’s still early, and listening to those raindrops falling outside is the only required thought.

 

 

It’s all pretty exciting really

It’s 5.15am and your alarm goes off.

Outside is dark. Stars still stand defiantly in the night sky as sunrise isn’t for another good hour and a quarter yet. You stumble into your swim suit, add another 6 layers over the top and silently tip toe out of the house, bundled up like a marshmallow woman. It is after all 7C out.

The trick is don’t let the cold sneak in. Don’t let it.

The stars are still there as you arrive. Looking our over the flood lit pool, and watching the wind whip up over the tops of the waves, you question yourself briefly. Although these days, the why no longer comes into it, it’s just something you do.

You wait patiently for the sun to arrive.

Swimming at sunrise at Merewether Ocean Baths throughout the year isn’t something that appeals to the masses (especially during these winter months), and yet to a select group of people this is the secret to a well lived life.

For over a year now I’ve been documenting these sunrise people, a visual story culminating in an exhibition scheduled for early next year. Over the next six months I will be sharing snippets of these ocean lovers, the magic of sunrise and a tiny part of the process in what it takes to create a body of work for exhibiting.

I hope you’ll jump on board for the journey, it’s a really exciting one that I’m tickled pink to be able to share.

In other news, there is a new website of mine if you are keen for a peek, and if you are still keen as a bean in finding out a few more super fascinating facts about me, I was kindly invited over for a lovely chat at Duckfeet on their Duckfeatures series.

Hope your week to come is good one dear people.

Conversations with Community…April, the Environmental Scientist

Today, another special post as Part IV has landed for Conversations with Community. A series focussed on some of the amazing women within our community doing some crazy inspiring things. People quietly changing things up, following untraveled paths, living creative lives, connecting in different ways that are often ignored in our culture of time racing, and today?

Today is a fascinating chat with April the environmental scientist, (also shark whisperer, fire pit lover and part time mermaid, but you have to read on a little further to find out about all that.) I hope you can grab a cup of chai, settle in and have a read.

Rightio, importantly, let’s set the mood… Tea, coffee, something to nibble? What shall I bring and where shall we go? 

Definitely a pot of fresh tea and some savoury snacks. I’m all about the savoury. A spread of cheese, crackers, olives, nuts, fresh prawns etc is one of my favourite things. Fortunately they also make a great picnic so we’d probably go outdoors, preferably by the water somewhere.

You work in the field of environmental behaviour change. Can you explain that area little further? (I feel like that’s at the frontline of all things really important!)

I originally actually had no intention of working in the space of behaviour change however as my career has evolved I have developed a deeper interest in this space. I had studied environmental science at Uni and the dream was to be a marine biologist and get paid to dive and conduct research. I grew up in a small coastal NSW town and the ocean was (and still is) a big part of my life, so my motivation was to save the oceans – so to speak.

It wasn’t until I started working as a fresh graduate that I was introduced to the concept of ‘behaviour change’. The organisation I was working for (and still work for) have the philosophy that if you are looking at an environmental issue, you have your back to problem. Meaning that to achieve any meaningful environmental change we needed to also focus on working with the people in our community (or organisation) to address environmental issues. This changed my perspective entirely. As an environmental scientist I guess I had always thought that, if you knew what I knew about an environmental issue, then you would care like I care, and make the changes necessary. Humans are way more complex than that and a bunch of facts and figures don’t really motivate people to change.

Behaviour change programs use the wisdom of social science to communicate complex issues to a community, to find out what motivates people to change, and how we can tap into that to move them through from ‘knowing’ to ‘doing’. It’s a softer approach compared to enforcement and has many benefits like connecting people with each other, developing solutions together, building a sense of community and developing a greater connection to place.

Having a gloriously green looking organic urban backyard farm is something that many people aspire to having. Is it something you’ve always had an interest in, and what’s your thing you are most proud of growing?

I had no interest in growing food until I met my partner Joël almost 20 years ago. He had grown up in the bush in rural QLD. As a kid his family had veggie gardens and chickens and he had spent many school holidays working for one of the neighbours picking grapes, or tomatoes or whatever needed harvesting. So when we first moved in together he dug up the back yard of our little rental house in Brisbane and started growing. We’ve had a veggie garden at every house wherever we went and I’ve always been really proud of what he’d bring in from the garden. Of course we’d talk about what to plant but I never really knew what I was doing so I left it to him and I would get busy turning food from the backyard into delicious and interesting meals.

It wasn’t until 6 years ago when we lived and worked on a farm in Spain that I truly understood what it felt like to get your hands dirty and the connection we have to the soil. After living in a yurt in rural Spain, being connected to the community we were living in, having much more reliance on the food that was grown, and the time dedicated to sharing with each other really lit a spark for me. So when we returned home, and moved back into our house we went about converting our backyard to a small urban farm. The goal was to minimise the amount of grass and maximise food production. So my personal interest and involvement in the garden is a relatively new thing.

I don’t think there is any single thing that I’m the most proud of growing, although we’re always trying to grow new and interesting things. The thing I’m most proud about is that we can create an entire meal from our backyard. Fresh eggs, herbs and vegetables can create a wholesome meal. It’s a simple delicious meal and that’s what I love about it.

Living in The Great Lakes area, water is obviously something that plays a part in your life, is water somewhere you feel comfortable?

Absolutely. I’ve never been able to stay away from water for too long, I need to see it, hear it, smell it and get in it as much as possible. My parents will tell stories where as a kid they would have difficulty getting me out of the water, in ANY kind of weather. I love adventuring along coastlines, and when I first started scuba diving I felt like I had come home. Being underwater felt like I was in my natural state. However the ocean has since reminded me a few times of her power and the thin line we walk when we are underwater and I definitely now have a deeper respect for the forces of the seas.

What’s the most exciting/scary thing you’ve seen underwater?

Am I allowed to say everything? (YES!) Underwater truly is like being in another world! It’s beautiful and exciting and harsh all at once. I’ve gotta say that the first time I saw a shark was pretty exciting. We have a few Grey Nurse Shark congregation areas around here and watching 50 or more sharks swim back and forth in front you is a stunning sight.

The scariest underwater thing I would say was an experience rather than anything I saw. I was on a dive trip to Vanuatu to dive a shipwreck ‘S.S. President Coolidge’, a popular dive site. One of the icons of this dive is a statue called ‘The Lady’ which is located in the first class dining room of the ship at 40m depth, and a must visit when you dive the Coolidge. We made it to the lady, I took a photograph and then blacked out. My awesome divemaster got me out of there promptly, for which I am forever grateful, but it was definitely my most scary underwater moment.

I see having a backyard fire has popped up on your instagram feed a few times. I love having a firepit in the backyard as it’s something I’ve aspired to for nearly two decades. Now that we finally have access to one (albeit an old style bbq, which I refuse to call it because firepit sounds so much better) it’s a highlight of our cool weather weekends. Why do they appeal to you?

My dad made our firepit out of an old keg and it suits our urban backyard perfectly. An outdoor fire has a way of bringing everyone together, to chat and connect with each other, to draw us away from our screens and other obligations and just be with each other. There’s no pressure for conversation either and sometimes just watching the flames can be meditative. Personally I feel like it burns away all the stresses of the day or week and makes me feel relaxed.

Considering we first connected on instagram, how does social media play a part in your life?

I first joined instagram because my friend Eartha had told me how awesome it was, and gave all of us girls a lesson one day. I’m a bit of an introvert when it comes to sharing things publicly, and I started our ‘freefunabundance’ account when I wanted to plug into the urban farming and growing community. I use it to share but also to learn. There is so much knowledge out there on all sorts of things and people are more than willing to give advice or help out. Plus I’ve met some great people on insta, including yourself.

I do like the extra ability to connect with people on social media, and to stay in contact with people I don’t get to see often, or relatives that live far away. I can also opt out for a few days or weeks if I need to and it’s no big deal.

As a parent though, I also make sure I’m across all the social media apps so that I understand the spaces that my children have access too. I actually quite enjoy watching the kids interact with their own communities (safely) and I make sure I have some fun myself.

Describe your perfect weekend.

Camping, by the beach, no phone reception, with a campfire and salty snacks!

Ahhh perfect. April thank you so much for taking the time for a chat. I feel like there a thousand more questions I would like to ask you, but for the moment…I say lets go for a swim!

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If you would like to see a few more snippets of April’s world, she is on instagram @freefunabundance (All pictures are supplied by April.)

conversations-with-community

Conversations with Community– a series focused on some of the amazing women within our community doing truly inspiring things. These are some of the people quietly changing things up, following untravelled paths, creative living, and connecting in different ways too often ignored in our culture of time racing.

 

Go on, take a few extra minutes to meet some of these inspiring, wonderful women here.

Pumpkin, a currency of gratitude

Sometimes in life, funny little things happen.

Like organising your parent-in-law’s holiday and accidentally flying them into a different city than stated, booking family accommodation for a stopover night in the wrong town, driving home without your lights on, or maybe driving home with your shoes on the roof etc. etc.

When there is a fairly lengthy supply of funny little things like that happening on a regular occurrence, well the day you throw your keys up on top of the roof of the house. It just feels like another day.

It was another day. Another day without my house keys.

When I asked a few people if by chance they had access to, say, maybe a cherry-picker? Most people followed that up by what the hell? How on earth did that even happen??

Mysteriously, that’s how. It was like a tiny winged elf grabbed hold of the said keys and whoosh, up they went. Right up to the top of the roof of the house.

Thankfully I had a spare set. (Which mind you, is only a new edition as I had got them cut after losing the same keys that were now on the roof. Where were they that time I hear you ask? Well to keep a ridiculous story brief, after 24 hours, lets just say they were under my nose all long.)

However they weren’t now. They were definitely 8 metres off the ground in an unseen guttering system attached to a questionable roof in the dark, with heavy rain now predicted.

I sighed.

The kids yelled in excitement and then we proceeded 10 different fairly useless methods of getting them back.

The keys weren’t budging. I couldn’t even guarantee they were there. I couldn’t hear them, or see them, but surely there was no other option right? For them not to be there, would be as crazy as arriving into a town for the night with all your tired family only to find out you had actually booked somewhere three hours south.

Of course that’s where the keys were. Which is how my lovely inventive neighbour managed to get them the following day. I’d asked for any suggestions he might have in retrieval. He assessed the situation, then disappeared into his garage for a time, rigging up a far more solid contraption then my broom-wire-coat-hangers contraption, and after 20 or so minutes of poking?

Jingle jangle.

I hugged him with glee, pocketed the keys carefully and then gave him my current currency of gratitude. A pumpkin. While there are many currencies in which to say thank you so much for your time, thoughtfulness and energy. Home grown pumpkin is my current numero uno. They have been prized possessions, something grown with a lot of love and contentment over the summer months and are now sitting in storage ready to be eaten or passed onto with basketfuls of thanks as deemed warranted.

And boy was it warranted. As along with being able to access your own front door, you can’t put a price on wonderful neighbours who show unending kindness now can you.